Monday, September 3, 2012

Early Intervention, here we come!

I've been wanting to blog about early intervention for awhile but kept coming up with other topics that I was posting instead. This is truly important to me, though, as J is in early intervention and other families could benefit with some knowledge of how the system works.

When J was 12 months old, I knew that he was not hitting milestones he should be hitting. At that age, he couldn't go up on hands and knees on his belly, couldn't pull himself from sitting to standing, couldn't crawl (although many babies skip that milestone now), couldn't cruise, couldn't go from belly to sitting, from back to sitting, and couldn't roll. For months I was just telling myself that J was focusing on his fine motor skills because he was advanced in terms of fine motor. However, I finally had to accept that he really was not where he should be developmentally. So at his 12 month checkup, I mentioned this to his new pediatrician, Dr.H, and she said that he does appear to be gross motor delayed and that I should have him evaluated. After a thorough exam, Dr H said that J has low trunk tone (meaning he doesn't have developed strength in his trunk that he should and that if the evaluation shows him to be severely delayed in gross motor skills, that he should be entitled to physical therapy through early intervention.

Shortly after that well visit, I did call early intervention and arranged an appointment for an evaluation at my home. Of course there is a waiting list so it was another month before J was evaluated. Because his issue was stated to be a gross motor one, there were both a physical therapist and a special education teacher present. It was an evaluation of J overall: fine motor, gross motor, speech, adaptive (self-feeding, dressing, etc), social, emotional, etc. Basically the entire thing was done in the form of play and imitation. At the end, J was found to be advance socially, emotionally, verbally, and with fine motor (he was listed at the age of 14-15 months for those areas) but at the level of a 7 month old for gross motor development. The physical therapist gave me some exercises to work on with J in order to help him make some progress with his gross motor development: they included exercises to strengthen his trunk and help him learn to side step so that he could start to cruise.

The next step in early intervention is an IFSP meeting which occurred about 2 weeks after the evaluation. During that meeting, there was a coordinator present as well as the two people there who evaluated J, and myself. First, we set goals that we would like to see achieved by the end of 6 month's time. Then, the coordinator looked at mine and hubby's most recent income tax return to determine the cost of services, which for us is nothing because our income is so low. About one month after the IFSP meeting, a physical therapist (in this case it was the same one who evaluated J) called to arrange our dates and times for physical therapy (PT).

It was decided that for the summer months, J would have his PT every Saturday morning at 8 AM. Early intervention occurs in our home so that J is in an environment that he knows. PT always happens in the form of play, although of course J does whine when expected to do things that he doesn't want to. Not to mention, one hour of PT is exhausting for a little one. I must say that since starting PT, J has progressed a lot. A month after I started the exercises with him, J starting cruising with furniture and could hold himself up on his hands and knees for at least 5 minutes at a time (he couldn't do it for that length of time initially). After two months, J progressed from walking holding onto 2 hand of another person to walking holding just one hand of said person. At the age of 15 months, J took his first steps and now, almost 3 weeks later he walks all over the place on his own; at the moment he does it with a wide stance and 2 hands out in front of himself like Frankenstein but these were all things he could not do at the age of 12 months. Recently, J figured out how to roll both ways when on the floor and can also sit himself down from a standing position. If not for the PT, my husband and I know that J would not have progressed like this and we are glad that we called early intervention. Apparently, a lot of parents do not even if their pediatrician recommends it, and we are both at a loss as to why parents would deny their child this opportunity. We are both glad that he will be up to par with his peers by the time he is in preschool.

Early intervention is available in every county from the ages of birth to 3 months. PT is not the only type of early intervention offered. Children may receive speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, etc., all depending on the child's needs. If you think your child may benefit from early intervention or the pediatrician recommends an evaluation, don't turn your nose at it. Early intervention is a wonderful thing!

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